By Kyle Sutherland | Photos by Ted McClenning
CONWAY — An exceptional day by the receiving corps and shutdown defense helped the east football team to a dominating 54-9 win over the west at Estes Stadium in the final contest of the 2022 Arkansas High School Coaches Association All-Star Games.
Harding signee Braden Jay (Cabot), Henderson State signee Jody Easter (McGehee), and Southern Arkansas signee Jackie Washington (El Dorado) combined for 15 passes for 330 yards and five touchdowns.
These three will all compete at the next level for years to come as each college they attend is part of the Great American Conference.
“This is going to be fun,” Jay said. “I’ll know a lot of DII kids that haven’t been heavily recruited and we’ll all play against each other.”
Easter echoed Jay’s statement that he’s ready to compete against guys he dated before closing the door on his high school career.
“I’m looking forward to it,” said Oster. “We became really good friends and learned from each other.”
Things couldn’t have gone much better for the East, nor for head coach Tom Sears (Hoxie), who spent some of the final hours of his 51st birthday guiding his side to a big win.
“I was trying to keep that (birthday) on the low side,” Sears said. “I knew we had a good group all week and we struggled a bit offensively because our defense was so good.
“I knew as soon as we got out of here and played someone else, everything would be fine. We had a couple of guys who can really play, so it was fun.”
Of all the highlight touchdown plays, none were more entertaining than Washington, who went the length of the field with a 97-yard grab midway through the third quarter.
The West led 3-0 in the first quarter after Bradley Turnage (Greenbrier) hit a 26-yard field goal after just over three minutes of play.
The East responded with 80 yards on six plays, topped off by a 9-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Cade Forrester (Hoxie) — an Arkansas-Monticello signer — to Washington, who was followed shortly thereafter by the West with a 55-yard touchdown -Reception was countered by Stran Smith (Benton) after Chase Cross (Hot Springs Lakeside).
Cross’ result would give West a 9-7 lead after Blocking Turnage’s extra point attempt, but West would not see the end zone from that point forward.
The east offense began to dominate in the second quarter with TD receptions from Jay for 22 and 43 yards, plus a 55-yard score at Easter.
As great as the trio of Easter, Jay and Washington were, the quarterbacks also deserved credit for the East, particularly Cameron Scarlett (Nettleton), who threw those three touchdowns in the second quarter and became the game’s most valuable player.
“I thought both[quarterbacks]played really well,” Sears said. I thought Cade might be a little tight at first, but then he hit a few passes and loosened up a bit. I thought Cameron played great; Both did.”
The east defense held the west for 273 total yards (compared to the east’s 534), including just 2.2 average yards per rush while forcing four turnovers.
“We struggled a bit there early on, but we got some momentum in the second quarter,” Sears said.
In addition to Scarlett being named MVP, other players from the East also received awards: Easter for Outstanding Offensive Defense, Malcolm Perry (West Memphis) for Outstanding Defensive Defense, and Vaughn Seelicke (Pulaski Academy) for Outstanding Special Team Player.
For the West, Dylan Horton (Lake Hamilton) was named Outstanding Offensive Lineman, while Parker Gill (Greenwood) was named Outstanding Defensive Lineman.